People who are serious about improving performance must eat frequently while finding healthy snacks to keep energy levels high and sugar and fat levels low. Snacking on the wrong foods can weigh a person down rather than build stamina. Active athletes need nutrient dense foods for optimal athletic performance.
It may feel difficult to find time to eat three meals a day. This is when a grab-and-go habit forms of eating foods which may not necessarily fuel the body appropriately. Active people tend to get hungry every four hours. Eating at breakfast, noon and early afternoon can provide energy needed to exercise and expend energy in athletic pursuits. An afternoon mini-meal may prevent a person from getting hungry later which makes snack attacks more possible.
Snacks must be planned ahead to ensure healthy foods are available when needed. Make note of good mini-menu choices to keep the reminders handy. Choosing foods from various food groups will help balance a diet and go a long way toward providing nutrients needed for good health and top performance. Some of the following may provide some inspirational ideas:
- Finger-food dry cereal mixed with nuts, raisins or dried fruit
- Handmade trail mix of nuts, fruit, cereal and pretzels
- Yoghurt with added fruit and granola
- Instant oatmeal for on-the-go
- Whole grain or stone-ground crackers
- Almond, cashew or peanut butter on a bagel, banana or rice cake
- Fresh fruit can be eaten with a homemade snack pack including raisins, cherries and cranberries
- Baked potatoes with cheese can add protein and calcium
- Energy bars or breakfast bars depending on the brand (check the label for ingredients)
Some of the best foods are easy to grab when in a pinch but do not always provide the healthiest alternative to giving the body necessary fuel to get through a workout. Typical workouts can burn several hundred calories which must be replaced in order for a person to notice tangible results. Keep in mind the healthy options listed above and try incorporating healthy fats from tuna, salmon and other fish which can be put on crackers, on a sandwich and thrown into a bag for that quick, healthy snack.
Some people enjoy getting a fix from liquid meals which are quick, easy and fast to digest. Drinking some liquid meals can provide a quick boost before or after a workout and provide necessary nutrients required to stay healthy and active. This may include:
- Fruit smoothies (milk, yoghurt, juice blend with fruit added)
- Boost drinks
- Low fat chocolate milk
- Pureed foods such as peaches
The most important thing to remember is health first. Stay away from foods too high in sugar and carbs which cause a crash and make sure to pack enough for busy days to avoid hitting a store or drive-thru for a fix.